Tidying gardens in Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City, Knebworth & surrounding villages.
If you would like help in the garden, whether it's for a few hours a week, a month or more, then please get in touch.
Tel: 07963 291504

Fully booked for 2019

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Summer Update

It's been a while since I last posted here on my blog so today I'm sharing what's been going on, both up the allotment and in the garden, over the past few months.
To start, a few updates from the allotment.


MAY 2019

MAY 2019

Back in May there was huge activity and excitment up the ol' lottie. One of the biggest thrills was finding a discarded, metal bed frame dumped by a bus stop, which I thought would make a great climbing frame for peas. The wildlife / wildflower bed started to emerge and the tadpoles, bought from the pond back home, had settled in.

 JUNE 2019

JUNE 2019

JUNE 2019

JUNE 2019

In June the excitement reached fever pitch. Harvesting what you've grown yourself is so satisfying and being able to fill your plate with homegrown deliciousness is an amazing feeling and makes all the hardwork and effort worth it. It's not all gone to plan...something went wrong with our spuds, with hardly any plant growth so we've only had a few potatoes to eat and I will leave Pak Choi until the cooler months from now on as it bolts very quickly when the temperature rises. 

JULY 2019

JULY 2019

JULY 2019

JULY 2019

Fast forward to July and the allotment is heaving.
We've had strawberries, lettuces, peas, french beans, cabbages, purple sprouting broccoli, radishes, spring onions....shall I go on?  😆😆😆 Rhubarb, gooseberries, beetroot, chard, kohlrabi and broad beans.

But it's not all been about feeding family and friends, it's about feeding the wildlife too, encouraging good critters to the plot and avoiding the use of chemicals.
You may recall my post about Grow Wild wildflower seeds and the beds that I created just for wildlife. Well those beds have been incredible and provided a huge range of beautiful flowers that the insects have loved and it's not over yet, there are plants for the whole year to keep insect bellies full.

Back home, the garden has been its best ever...only taken 20 years...lol.

At the moment the Zinnias are taking centre stage...

...and the passion flower, that I've been  growing up through the apple tree, has finally bloomed.

We also have a couple of new additions...a big, bright, orange planter by the pond to give a permanent pop of colour and an arch, up which I'm growing a heavily scented white jasmine.

Don't forget you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where I post more regular updates on the garden and allotment. 
Hope to see you there.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Fabulous Spring

Spring 2019, so far, has been glorious.
This is definitely my favourite time of year. Everything has a zing of freshness about it, everywhere you look there is new life...I love it!

Last autumn I planted a whole heap of inexpensive tulips from Wilko and The Range.

 I have been so impressed and will add more to the garden this year too, especially more of the frilly varieties.     

Of course, if you're a regular follower you'll know that it's now Auricula season, so brace yourself for the first batch of blooms from the Tidy Garden.

Meanwhile up the allotment, HUGE amounts of work have been going on.
On my patch, Plot 38a, a frenzy of planting and seed sowing has begun. 
In the pond, the tadpoles are enjoying their new home and the wildflower seeds that were cast in that bed have started to emerge. 

I've planted 5 dwarf fruit trees (from The Range)...2 plums, 2 apples and a cherry. I've got arches to grow blackeberries (from Lubera) up, as well as French Beans and Nasturtiums.

So far we've got broadbeans, parsnips, kalettes, sprouts, onions, early potatoes and a selection of salad bits n' bobs.

I also have a herb & cut flower bed, edged with lavenders and rosemary right next to our bench which hopefully will be really scented later in the year.

Over on 38b, my co-working plot, there's LOTS going on. More broadbeans, a raspberry bed next to the existing strawberry bed, purple sprouting broccoli, red onions, garlic, rhubarb (that was already there), cabbages, Pak Choi and more blackberries.

The newly created berry bed is starting to fill out (gooseberries, red / black currants and strawberries) and the second wildflower bed, right at the top, is also starting to grow.

Of course, with so much emerging, there's a LOT of watering to do, but at the end of the day it's so peaceful on the site and it feels so good.
Hopefully we'll be harvesting something soon.
You can also find me on Facebook & Instagram for daily updates and photos. 
Just type in Tidy Gardens by Jane.
See you there ☺

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Allotment Update & Growing Wildflowers

The excitment up the allotment is mounting.
The shed has a new roof and a veranda extension (dead posh). The compost bin is already about a 1/4 full with all the peelings, teabags and egg shells from home, plus grass clippings & weeds from around the plot.

The arrival of a huge mountain of bark chippings on the site means we now have beautiful pathways between the beds. It was the finishing touch. 

Crop wise, I've sown parnips, carrots, seed potatoes, radishes, broadbeans and onions in the soil. Back home in the greenhouse there are kalettes, cabbages, leeks, tomatoes, peppers, more broadbeans and brussels sprouts.

Yes...that my friend is a bucket of poo.
Gorgeous innit?

Earlier in the year I applied to Grow Wild UK to take part in their campaign to get more people growing wild flowers. 

My application was successful and I was sent a box of goodies which included stickers, planting guides, a poster, 2for1 vouchers for Kew Gardens and enough wildflower seeds to cover 40 square metres. I've shared these with others up the allotment.  

I've created another bed at the top of my co-working plot just for wildflowers and on my own plot I've dedicated a bed to wildflowers and wildlife. I've put in a pond using a large Smithy plant tub and bought some pond plants from home to put in it. We've also got LOTS of frogspawn back home so I'm going to bring down a blob or two to put in the pond. Apparently frogs return to where they were born so I'm hoping I'll have my own army of slug munchers in the future.

Around the pond I've scattered my wildflower seeds and put up an anti-cat fence. I've made nice pathways around the beds, carpeted them with soft bark chippings and what do the cats do? Stomp across my fluffy, manicured beds with their size 12 boots leaving large crater-sized footprints eveywhere 😂😂😂
Fingers crossed we'll have seedlings soon and a summer of wildflowers, welcome critters and wildlife.
Can't wait!

Friday, 15 February 2019

Keeping Busy

January & Feb' (so far) have been hugely exciting up at the new allotment. 
Plot 38a has been transformed from a huge plot of soil to 11 raised beds.
I lost track of the number of pallets I've sawn up over the past few weeks, gawd knows how many screws I've used and let's not mention the wonky lines. Straight lines are sooooo 2018.
I say 'let's embrace the wonkiness' in 2019.

 I've also got a rickety ol' shed, left on the site by a previous owner. Twas a comedy moment as 3 of us carried it across the site, 'sedan-chair style'. It was riddled with woodlice... there were so many it could have given 'I'm a Celebrity' a run for its money. When we lifted the carpet there was a massive, grey patch...then it started moving!!!!! They were EVERYWHERE and as we lifted the shed they started falling out of the walls and ceilings.

I found some really beautiful pallets (yes, pallets can be sexy) to use as flooring and, because of the overhang, I have a posh veranda (lol).
I've also made a bench, from sexy pallets, and painted the whole lot plus put up shelving and hooks inside..but spared you the photos... I know I'm the only one who finds this exciting.
I bought a composter from Greenfingers.com which arrived flat-packed and clicked together in 2 mins.

Over on my Co-working plot next door (38b), the kale is coming to the end, as are the cabbages that I grew as spring greens. I will definitely do these again later in the year...delicious and so easy to grow. Coming up now are broad beans, red onions and garlic that I planted in the autumn.

On my own plot I've sown dwarf broad beans and onions today and in the greenhouse back home, kalettes, more broad beans, brussel sprouts and cabbage seeds.

Of course it's not all about vegetables.
This year I'm going to give Dahlias a go. Now I've grown them before for clients but not within a 50 mile radius of my house. The reason? Earwigs!!! Even typing the word makes my skin crawl. I can 'cope' with a woodlouse infested shed but show me an earwig....nay just mention the 'E' of earwig and I'm gone. 
These packs of Dahlias were in the doorway of The Range, screaming at me, like the sweets section at the checkouts,...'BUY US!!!! BUY US!!!!'
I caved in, but will grow them in a cut-flower bed up the allotment in the hope that by the time I've walked home, any critters would have been shaken out.
Til next time...don't have nightmares.

Friday, 18 January 2019

New Year, New Beginnings

Happy New Year 2019!
If you're a regular stalker of yee olde TGBJ blog then it's good to see you again.
If you're a new follower or just passing thru', then welcome aboard 😃

Towards the end of 2016, I put my name down for an allotment just around the corner from our house. I prepared myself for a long wait, but then last summer the opportunity to be a 'Co-Worker' on Plot 38b (first photo) came up so I jumped at the opportunity to help somebody with their patch of heaven.

As some areas were cleared I was able to use a few patches to try growing my own bits so I had a go at Kale, Leeks, Parsnips, Cabbages, Carrots and a veg' I'd never heard of, Kohlrabi.
The cabbages, that we've been eating as spring greens, have been a huge success. The leeks grew brilliantly but then got hit with a horrid maggoty creature and it all had to be pulled up & discarded. I forgot to thin the carrots so they were a bit spindly but still tasted good. The Kohlrabi was delicious and dead easy to grow plus it didn't attract any bugs. If you've not tried it before, you can eat it raw as a salad crop (which we did and it tastes like a mild 'cucumbery radish' & is really lovely with a sour cream dip) or you can use it like a cabbage, which we are yet to try.

The parsnips were amazing, albeit a bit wrinkly. The Kale looks majestic but it's been hit with whitefly who, because of the mild weather we've had this winter, have not been killed off and have laid eggs on a lot of the lower leaves. You can't wash them off...they're stuck on tight. Somebody suggested leaving them to soak in salt water but that didn't work. If anyone has any suggestions for next year then please let me know. That said, there are still lots of good, untouched leaves and boy do they taste good. Much, much tastier than shop bought and of course totally chemical free.

Fast forward to this week and my name finally came to the top of the list and I am now the proud owner of Plot 38a. The previous carer has left it in fabulous condition...I am so grateful to him. It's all ready for planting as soon as the weather lifts. I've been on the scavenge for lengths of old wood for the past couple of days to make raised beds and have been busy with a sledge hammer and crowbar, removing nails and old screws. 
Very excited about this new adventure. 

Meanwhile, back at Tidy Garden's HQ, I've been tidying out the greenhouse and preparing space for growing allotment seedlings. 3 mice have been living in it over the past year, treating it like a 5* hotel...pinching my gloves, ball of string and bits of cardboard. I was happy to have them scuttling about but then the little buggers ate all of my autumn sown seedlings and winter lettuces so I bought a humane trap, caught 'em and rehomed them in a field up the road. Hopefully they don't have homing instincts.

In order not to stand out up the allotment, Mr TG bought me this very discreet wheelbarrow for Christmas. Somehow I think I'm gonna be a laughing stock but hey-ho! 
Why be dull...lol.
That's it for now....lots to do, will be back soon.
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